No trip to Arizona would be complete without spending some time at one of the country’s most awe-inspiring gems: Grand Canyon National Park. Make sure you don’t forget your camera for this amazing experience because you won’t want to miss a single minute of it.
Serious photographers should bring a tripod because you would never forgive yourself if you didn’t take a memory home with you of that moon that never seemed so big and a night sky that enhances every star. Park the RV and start exploring!
Start out on the South Rim because this is the most accessible for visitors. Check out the National Geographic Visitor Center and make a stop at the IMAX Theater, which dramatizes the adventure and discovery of the national park, with thundering sound and breathtaking footage giving visitors an exciting glimpse of what lies beyond the entrance. The IMAX Theater is one of the first of its kind ever built and is designed to accommodate large groups in a comfortable, temperature-controlled environment. You’ll find historical artifacts, restaurants, shops and a shuttle bus that will take you to all the most popular vantage points of the canyon.
While you’re here, be sure to check out the historic South Rim Village. Walk the same trails that President Theodore Roosevelt walked when he first viewed this fantastic wonder of nature.
Along the way, make it a point to visit the historic sites that millions have visited before you, such as the Hopi House, the Kolb Studio, Lookout Studio, Mule Corral, Redhorse Station and Verkamps. Some of these structures have been in existence for over 100 years and will give you spectacular vantage points of the canyon. Find a perch outside the lookout studio and start snapping those shots that will make the rest of your family jealous.
One more stop on the South Rim that you won’t want to miss is the Grand Canyon Railway Depot in Williams. Here, you can hop a train that will take you on a trip of a lifetime through the canyon. Seeing the canyon from the comfort of a completely restored iron horse is the stuff that dreams are made of. The Grand Canyon train has daily departures and even a Christmas Eve version of the Polar Express. If you have children, you certainly don’t want to miss this unique experience.
Of course, one of the best ways to see the canyon is to go right into it. There are a couple of choices on how to get there. You can go on your own, with a group led by a ranger, or on the back of a mule. No matter which way you go, there are a few things to pack and plan before you embark on your adventure. It’s required that you take lots of food and water, no matter what time of the year you go. This is especially true in the summer, when temperatures can climb over 100 degrees. Wear well-fitting and broken-in hiking boots. Be sure to bring plenty of sunscreen and water, and wear sunglasses and a hat.
If this sounds like it might be a bit more difficult than you thought, you could opt for a mode of travel that’s easier on the body. For instance, you can get a close-up view of the canyon by taking one of the many helicopter tours that fly regularly. You can also go on a river tour.
If you’re a road-less-traveled person, then you are definitely going to want to check out the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. This remote area is open from about mid-May to about mid-October, depending on the weather. There is a visitor’s center that is open during the season, and free interpretive ranger programs are given daily. You can also hike from this area, and there are bus tours that will take you from the North Rim to the South Rim during the summer months. Allow about four and a half hours for this trip.